Charles Tessier

(c1550 -- ?)

French lutenist and composer. A chamber musician to Henry IV of France; travelled in Germany and visited London, where his 4- and 5-part chansons and airs de cour were published in 1597. A further volume of 3-part airs appeared in Paris in 1604. In both publications tuneful treble parts are highlighted by the very simple chordal accompaniments.

Le Premier Livre de chanson et airs de court, tant francois quen italien et en gascon a 4 et 5 parties 1597, included settings of sonnets from Astrophel and Stella, the first great Elizabethan sonnet cycle and a work dedicated to Lady Penelope Rich, née Devereux, (1562?-1607), a lady-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth, who was the "Stella" of Astrophel and Stella (1582). She was the daughter of Walter Devereux, 1st Earl of Essex. At age 14 she won the attentions of Sidney, Tessier's settings were an attempt to win the patronage of her brother. When her second husband died, the composer Coperario published a volume of mourning songs, Funeral Tears (1606), explicitly for her to sing.

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